In a recent episode of ethnic violence in Manipur, about 11 people have been shot dead while 24 have been injured. The recent killings come more than a month after a previous bout of ethnic clashes that left entire villages reduced to ashes whilst hundreds had to flee dozens lost their lives. Whereas, journalists have been facing restrictions on reporting from Manipur, and an internet blackout has been in place for more than a month in the state. There have been reports that about 250 churches have been destroyed in the fighting since the violence erupted.
This time round, the violence has taken its worst form as reports emerged dead bodies badly mutilated. The dead bodies have hard to identify, doctors and senior management officials at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) and Raj Medicity Hospital in Imphal- state’s capital told an international news outlet. “The bodies that have come in have not been in a good state. There were many cuts, wounds, and scratches all over. We are still conducting a post-mortem and trying to confirm the identity of the last victim, but his face is badly mutilated,” the director of JNIMS, Dr. Deben said.
The recent ethnic vilence was spawned in Imphal on May 3, 2023 when thousands of students, most of them from the Kuki tribe, mainly Christians took part in a rally against the majority Meiti ethnic community, who were demanding special tribal status that would bestow upon them the legal right to buy land in the hills and give them more opportunity for government jobs.
The Meitei community, on the other hand, a largely Hindu ethnic group make up about 50% of Manipur’s population. The Meitei tribe have for years sought recognition as a scheduled tribe. The other tribes, predominantly Christians, fear if the Meiteis are granted their demand; the rest of then tribesmen will not have a fair chance for jobs and other benefits.
In the face of raging violence hundreds of Manipur residents have sought refuge over the border in Myanmar’s Chin state, which is itself racked with conflict between rebel groups and the forces of General Min Aung Hlaing’s military junta. The govenrment has been accused of showing slackness in curbing the violence in Manipur. Indian premier’s yet to comment publicly on th eviolence plaguing the state for weeks now. Opposition has accused PM Modi and the BJP the ruling party in Manipur of showing a lack of urgency in getting the problem solved and of laxity to stop the bloodshed.